Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A foundation of . . . sand

Oh, what a tangled web he weaves when Bobby Jindal first practices to deceive.

Here's a good one, from an op-ed piece the Louisiana governor had today
in The (Shreveport) Times:
When booms did begin to arrive, it was too little and too late in many areas, so we proposed a 24-segment sand berm plan to protect our shoreline by using the natural framework of our barrier islands to help block and trap oil for collection before it gets into our marshes. Even after we demonstrated the effectiveness of sand berms, it took us weeks to convince the Coast Guard to approve even six segments from this plan, and then longer for us to force BP to fund the work.

In what has now become a pattern, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife shut down our dredging operations on the northern Chandeleurs
[sic] Islands recently where we had already created 4,000 feet of land to protect our interior wetlands from oil impact, and indeed it has already worked to stop oil. A U.S. Department of Interior official said they were worried that our dredging operations would hurt a bird habitat nearby. The only problem with that is we were dredging in a permitted area in open water and there isn't a place for a bird to land for a mile.
IN THE PHOTO above, you can see all the earth-moving equipment several feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, atop one of the governor's "effective" sand berms.

The trouble with building sand berms in the middle of the ocean, however, is that the waves wash them away absent something to hold them together -- riprap, or grasses and other vegetation, for example. Obviously, nothing's holding these berms together.

ABOVE is one of the berms off the Chandeleur Islands on June 25. Next is that same berm July 2, photographed from a higher altitude.

AND THEN . . . last week. Even accounting for the possibility of a really high tide, that doesn't look like engineering success -- or an effective oil-spill barrier.

YOU UNDERSTAND the need to try even iffy propositions, given the urgency here and the consequences of doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, the chance of doing anything useful on the Louisiana coast is diminished by the Mexican standoff between the dithering, incompetent Obama Administration and the hyperventilating, mau-mauing (and clueless) tag team of Jindal and the perpetually apoplectic president of Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser.

I had wanted to think the best of folks like Nungesser and Jindal in this, even though I see Jindal as, alas, an even bigger disaster as governor than Kathleen Blanco. In short, I've been away from Louisiana long enough that my Spidey senses have atrophied some.

In other words, I f***ed up. I trusted that a collection of Louisiana politicians couldn't be that stupid or --
alternatively -- cynical.

READ for yourself what Discovery.com had to say Monday about what a boondoggle this is, a news item based on a retired professor's blog post. And reflect now that this crew is all about building giant rock jetties across an inlet by Grand Isle.
A dramatic series of of aerial images show that plans to build artificial islands to block oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from reaching Louisiana's sensitive marshland appear to be crumbling. Literally.

Two months ago, against the advice of many coastal scientists, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal began furiously campaigning for the construction of six artificial islands to hold back the advancing oil. The federal government quickly granted Jindal his wish, and construction on the islands has been continuing apace.

But images taken of one construction site near the northern edge of the Chandeleur islands appear to show the sea washing away a giant sand berm over the course of about two weeks.

The first image . . . was taken on June 25. The second and third . . . were taken from roughly the same vantage point on July 2 and 7. All three images were first published yesterday by coastal scientist Leonard Bahr on his blog, LACoastPost.

Bahr, a former researcher at Louisiana State University, spent 18 years in the governor's office, advising five administrations on their coastal policy.

"There have been a number of plans over 20 years to save the coast," he said. "But after Katrina, it morphed into 'coastal protection,' which gives me pause."

The crucial difference is that within the Jindal administration, coastal policy has been cast as a war between man and the sea. Plans have been devised to build massive levees and other earthworks to defend the Mississippi River delta and its marshes from the Gulf of Mexico.


"Building what they call 'the Louisiana wall' makes sense at first, but the science doesn't support it," Bahr said. "The science should be leading this issue, but it isn't. It never has."

Unfortunately, the berms project has charged ahead in this vein, seeking to build (and spend hundreds of millions of dollars) first, and ask questions later.

LET ME say again: I was wrong. And CNN and Anderson Cooper are just as wrong -- probably more so -- for giving mau-mauers like Jindal and Nungesser a nightly pass to swamp unsuspecting viewers with pure propaganda when they no more know their ass from a hole in the ground than do Obama's nincompoop bureaucrats.

Then again, these Yankees can be forgiven, I suppose, for not knowing the score. I should have known better, that Louisianians -- particularly their elected officials -- have an almost limitless capacity for losing their s*** in a crisis. This almost always results in people running around, wild-eyed, saying crazy things and doing things even crazier.

Remember Ray Nagin's and police chief Eddie Compass' blood-curdling-yet-utterly-false reports about all the rapes and murders in the Superdome after Katrina? And the FBI is still cleaning up the aftermath of New Orleans cops killing innocent civilians in Algiers and on the Danziger Bridge.

God knows what fresh hell will come out of this one-two punch of federal deadheads and Louisiana pieces o' work.

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